Andaz Resort, Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico
The first Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) National Forum in the Philippines was held in Boracay Island, just a days before it was declared a cesspool by the President and thereby ordered its closure for six months for “rehabilitation”. Even before the Conference, a lot of controversy arose why Boracay Island was chosen as the venue, as it is not exactly an example of sustainable tourism. Our Society for Sustainable Tourism (SST) and GSTC Philippines countered, the island at its then deplorable environmental state is the best graphic showcase to learn the lessons about flawed tourism development and how to avoid the pitfalls of unsustainable tourism practices.
At the National Forum, Guest Experts all the way from Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Mexico, came to share the lessons and good practices of resort developments and sustainable management of beach destinations. Ms. Beatriz Barreal, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Riviera Maya, GSTC Country Representative and Trainer, the force behind the public-private stakeholders’ cooperation in the area and recently working towards México Sostenible, and
Architect Arturo Amaya, of Dirección Arquitectonica SC, and original team member behind the development of Mayakoba, a group of sustainable resorts in Quintana Roo gave vivid insights on sustainable tourism development and stewardship in Playa del Carmen.
SST President and CEO, Ms. Susan Santos de Cardenas herself shared the best practices of these sustainable resort- models as she visited and experienced first-hand, not only as a guest but also as a seasoned hotelier to verify the “back-of-the-house” operations of each and every accredited GSTC-complied, Sustainable Riviera Maya Ambassador.
The Grand Palladium Riviera Resort & Spa considered environmental impacts throughout all phases of its construction and operations. Only thirteen percent (13%) of the 200-hectare property is built up. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of the terrain is used for habitat conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity. Among its GSTC complied standards: structures are low level in height designed to blend with their surroundings; recycled/captured water is 73% of the usage; energy efficient and low GHG emission; ecological solid waste management and recycling programs; sustainable purchasing– 97% of consumable products are locally produced; community empowerment and support programs.
The environment features a network of underground rivers that feed three cenotes and extensive mangrove forests that serve as important habitats for fish and wetland bird species. The four massive hotels educate their staff, guests and local community about ways to reduce their ecological impacts, with twice weekly programs respectively. Palladium is known for its commitment to helping the communities in which they have properties by sharing the area’s natural resources while simultaneously working to mitigate the impact of climate change and fortify the area’s resilience to natural disasters and resource conflicts. Sea turtle conservation is a priority as one of its beaches is a nesting ground for Green and Hawksbill turtle species, thus, the beach area is fenced off from the public between May and October annually. No, sir, they do no such downright unwitting activity as “turtle release” program!
Paradisus, Playa del Carmen, a model of sustainable efficiency. On top of its development philosophy, is the advocacy that the resort was built following international regulations and agreements focused on environmental development. Special considerations in the design include biodiversity protection and restoration (coral reefs, dunes, mangroves and jungle), correct use of streams and a solid and dangerous residues urban management plan.
Other good practices adhering to the GSTC standards include ecological impact relief and carbon footprint reduction, osmosis plant, water metering regulation and discharge control, sustainable hydro hotel certification, waste management and recycling, greenhouse gas inventory and emission reduction, flora and fauna inventory and endangered species conservation program, all Silver EarthCheck certified.
From its groundwork, Mayakoba was envisaged as a resort development with preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems at its core and one of the best examples of sustainability in the country. The integrated design of tourism infrastructure was to follow the contours of the existing topography, to enhance, not replace, the ecological make-up of the place. Architects, biologists, geologists and engineers worked to map out the master plan, that does not destruct, but even boost its environmental assets. As part of the original team that worked on the master development, Architect Arturo Amaya showed us during our inspection tour of the four properties, the epitome of resorts development that corresponds to the local community in a harmonious way.
From flora and fauna inventory and management, new species “migrated” and used the property’s natural resources as their habitat, and for 16 years, coastal and marine species are monitored and inventoried. Likewise, its integral management of solid, water and hazardous waste are carried out in accordance to the law and observed with a Waste Management Plan. Environmental, social and cultural outreach is performed not only for the staff but also all the guests and visitors. Mayakoba is certified by Rainforest Alliance and is a UNWTO Ulysses Awardee in Innovation of companies with sustainable and socially responsible development.
Since 2010 to date, our Society for Sustainable Tourism have proposed to the Department of Tourism (DOT) and talked with three Department Secretaries about adopting the UNWTO – Global Sustainable Tourism criteria, to no avail. Recently, the newly appointed DOT Chief is pronouncing “sustainable tourism” as the norm for the country, however, we have yet to see if they are UNWTO comprehensive standards and not just green washing. No ifs and buts here. If the Department of Tourism, DENR, DILG and all the other government agencies concerned truly want to save Boracay for a longer time, and all the other Philippine tourist destinations for that matter, then it’s high time for the Philippine tourism industry, public and private stakeholders and developers to adopt and implement GSTC Standards not only for destinations but also for resorts, tour operators and businesses, like most of its ASEAN neighbors.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building, Educational programs and Green Solutions and Services for public stakeholders: Destinations – LGUs and host communities; private stakeholders – resorts, hospitality, tour operators and businesses with Global Sustainable Tourism Council standards. Training programs and solutions include Environmental Conservation and Compliance, Good Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): food security, poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate resilience. Waste water (P.T. Amanaid Philippines) and Waste to Energy (W2E) Solutions as well as other green innovations are now offered to LGUs and tourism industry for law compliance.
For more information and assistance, contact us.
Guest post by Bryn Huntpalmer of Modernize.
From filling out paperwork to selecting vendors and managing staff, if you own a hotel, you are certainly busy. With so many elements to juggle, environmental friendliness can slip down the ladder of importance. It may seem daunting to address the term “eco-friendly” when it involves company-wide changes, so we at Modernize have a few tricks to maintain a greener environment without sacrificing your guests’ comfort and satisfaction.
Boost Your Energy Efficiency
Let’s face it; hotels require significant energy levels to function, from heating and cooling to laundering and powering electronics. Monitoring utility bills is the first step in making a change. Set a goal to reduce energy consumption and design an action plan.
One of the biggest users of energy is a hotel’s HVAC system. Go eco-friendly by upgrading to an adjustable, green system that will keep both you and your guests comfortable. Innovative HVAC systems are equipped with digital thermostats that guests can set, just like they would at home. The revolutionary “unoccupied” setting is the key to conserving energy. Smart systems can sense when a guest leaves the room, reset to a standard temperature, and then sense when the guest returns and readjust accordingly. This eliminates wasted energy when no one is even in the room to enjoy that cool blast or cozy heat.
You’ll love the lower utility bills, the raving reviews from guests and the clear consciousness of doing your part to protect the world we love.
Stock Your Kitchens with Organic Food
Food can be a decadent part of the hospitality industry, from buffets to room service, breakfast bars and restaurants. Improve the taste and quality of your cuisine by shopping for organic ingredients. Guests will appreciate how much you care and enjoy the deliciousness of your meals. It may seem like a small change, but supplying your business with organic food is actually better for the environment, too.
Organic gardens are more sustainable over time, and farmers don’t use harmful chemicals and nonrenewable energy sources to grow their crops. Agrochemicals, which are often used for non-organic produce, contribute to global warming and water contamination. Supporting organic farmers and local vendors will reduce these harmful effects.
If you are ready to make a huge change, you can even grow your own garden and pull herbs, produce and legumes right from your own backyard!
Recycle and Reuse
Switch to green paper products crafted from recycled material to eliminate paper waste. Unbleached and recycled paper towels, coffee cups, plates and straws are a few of our favorite eco-friendly hospitality products.
Promote recycling in your hotel by training staff and setting up recycling bins in each guest room. Don’t forget to encourage eco-friendly practices by placing recycling bins in the lobby, gym, pool room and other common areas. Order supplies in bulk to cut down on the amount of packaging waste.
Reduce waste by reusing items and donating to the local community. When it’s time to update your hotel’s decor, donate unwanted furniture and linens instead of tossing them out. You can also donate wrapped, unopened groceries to local food banks, benefitting both the planet and your neighbors!
Best Practices for Eco-Friendly Hotels
Establishing green practices is a team effort, so train your staff to be on team Earth. Establish rules for turning lights off when exiting a room, unplugging unused electronics and reducing personal waste levels. Offer incentives for staff who are dedicated to eco-friendly practices, and applaud their efforts regularly.
When choosing vendors for supplies like toiletries, coffee and tea, support local, fair-trade businesses. Keep everything bright and shiny by switching to non-toxic cleaners to improve indoor and outdoor air quality, so that you and your guests can literally breathe easier.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs include Environmental Conservation, Good Governance, Climate Resilience, to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. For Training information and assistance, contact us.
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.
The following is a re-post from an article by Ms. Chit Juan, Social Enterpreneur & Sustainability advocate Managing Partner of Echo Store (see our related blog on green products & gift ideas), one of SSTDI-The Coron Initiative Resource Experts.
CORON A green sanctuary
MANILA, Philippines – I remember Boracay in the early 1990s when it was lights out at 9 p.m., and you needed flashlights if you wanted to stroll along the shore after sunset, and resorts had ceiling fans and no air conditioning. Coron reminds me of such a time. And how I wish it would remain this way for a long time.
For daytrippers, you can dock your banca at Smith Beach where the boatmen from Al Linsangan’s cooperative will cook up a quick healthy lunch of grilled squid and local fish, and some pork too if you wish. The boatmen come to the beach complete with reusable plates and utensils so as not to litter the beach with disposable plastic utensils. And they encourage you to take as many pictures as you wish while they fix lunch.
After lunch, you board the boat to view Kayangan Lake, a steep 70-step climb in the forest where you are gifted with beautiful postcard views of the lakes of Coron. The island has many nooks and crannies, and snorkel spots like Twin Peaks, Siete Pecados, which responsible eco guides can lead you to. Beware that there are many tricycle drivers and boatmen posing as guides. There are about 40 licensed guides in Coron, and it would be more responsible to pay the proper fees for a proper guide. I wish that the local government is able to control the number of huts situated in the lake. The lake is actually best left to be managed by its original inhabitants, the Tagbanua, because they know how to preserve their environs.
You could also go by paddle boat (I do not know how long it would take to paddle from Coron town to the island though) so as not to disturb the animals that have the island as their natural habitat. Visitors should also not use insect repellents, lotions and other chemical products that could leech into the pristine waters, which are so clear you would surely be tempted to jump in.
To keep Coron as virgin as possible, a group of eco advocates have joined together to form the movement called The Coron Initiative. The movement seeks to teach tour guides to be eco guides, to teach resort owners how to buy green and serve green products, to teach boatmen how to preserve nature and to rally everyone to help save Coron from becoming another commercial destination.
A day trip may not be enough to see Coron island as it has many beaches and snorkel sites. A few more days are needed, too, to explore the rest of the Calamianes Islands – Culion, Linapacan, Coron and Busuanga – and that is just for a quickie view. Even Coron natives still have not explored all their neighboring isles.
Al Linsangan III is the community leader and head of Calamianes Culture Conservation Network Inc. He also operates responsible and eco-friendly green tours.
Hilbert Enriquez is a locavore and restaurant owner who infuses local flavor in his cuisine at Santino’s Grill.
Ivan Fernandez operates eco-friendly Coron Village Lodge and has adopted green ways like using used cooking oil for their candles, retrofitting their lodges with eco-friendly materials, etc.
Rene Villegas shares his knowledge about Biology with the eco tour guides, promotes closed season fishing which is three days before and after the New Moon so we can save our favorite fish made into the famous lamayo danggit.
Eric Raymundo has volunteered his personal time to teach resort owners how to be energy efficient at the lowest price possible.
Caloy Libosada teaches tour guides how to be eco-friendly and how to appreciate birds and birdwatching as a tour possibility.
Chin Fernandez, another birdwatcher and Darayonan Lodge operator, promotes birdwatching tours.
PJ Aranador shares with resort developers how to be more efficient in using native materials while keeping the Tagbanua culture in their designs, rather than taking inspiration from Bali or other cultures.
And the chieftain himself of the Tagbanuas, Rodolfo, who joined our conference (The Green Leaders Forum last July 1 and 2, see related story) to get everyone on the same page while guiding The Coron Initiative members in respecting the ways and customs of the indigenous tribe.
There are many more advocates who can help preserve Coron and its sister islands and many more who can join the movement even while being a tourist or an investor. There are 688 more islands available for sale or investment and we wish developers would toe the line in keeping virgin islands like Coron the way they were when we found them. Let’s make it not just more fun in the Philippines, but greener too.
Take a green trip to Coron, Palawan, Philippines, site of The Coron Initiative– a UNEP APFED showcase program on Sustainable Tourism Development & Stewardship, the Philippines’ first sustainable tourism program. For more information and travel assistance please visit our Green Travel Exchange or contact us.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc.-SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Educational programs for hotels, destinations – LGUs, host communities, private stakeholders and the grassroots and tour operators with Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria. Training programs for Destinations, Hotels, Tour Operators and Industry in general include Environmental Conservation, Good Governance, Climate Resilience. The objective is to address global challenges of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals: poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability and climate change. WASTE TO ENERGY solutions are now offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.
Watch the Inkaterra trailer:
In 1975, a Peruvian company called Inkaterra opened a lodge for scientists who came to study Peru’s rainforest, long before eco-tourism was trendy. Inkaterra’s proud legacy of conservation, social responsibility and geo tourism has created an international model, recognized by the World Bank and the United Nations, by providing the sophisticated international traveler with a luxurious, gracious and authentic exposure coupled with social responsibility initiatives for over 30 years now.
Inkaterra through its NGO Inkaterra Foundation (Inka Terra Asociacion –ITA) carried out ecological endeavors at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica, on the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru’s Southern Amazon rainforest and at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel, in the Machu Picchu National Reserve in the Southern Andes. ITA was founded to conserve the environment, ecosystems, cultural and archaeologicalnatural resources, Peru’s cultural identity and apply sustainable development.
Through ITA, Inkaterra’s ongoing programs include Research, such as sponsoring international scientists and local experts who conduct ecosystem studies, biodiversity, flora and fauna inventory andconservation status, etc. This has resulted in the identification of 372 species and the discovery of 8 new species in the Machu Picchu cloud forest, as well as several publications and field guides.
Inkaterra Conservation Projects include the Inkaterra Canopy & Anaconda Walk at Reserva Amazonica, with constant monitoring of wildlife assessments and endangered eco systems, as well as the Rolin Island Fauna Rescue Center and the Butterfly House in Puerto Maldonado. Likewise, the Spectacled Bear Rescue Project in Machu Picchu provides vital support for protection of the endangered Andean bear species. Natural corridors and carbon fixing along the Madre de Dios River of the Southern Amazon rainforest and the Andean cloud forest in Machu Picchu are carried out in a total of 17,000 hectares of reforestation projects.
Environmental and eco best practices include evaluating surrounding landscapes, flora, fauna, water, air, sounds and solid waste.Infrastructure was constructed in keeping with the local nature in both Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica’s Ese-Eja styled cabañas and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Andean casitas. Quality assurance along with ecological safety measures are ensured with the proper use of water resources,water waste management, air quality maintenance through proper utilization of gas stoves, non usage of aerosols and ground keeping in general. All Inkaterra eco-excursions such as Bird watching, Orchid Trail, Nature Walks, among others, are led by highly trained, knowledgeable and conscientious expert eco guides-interpreters.
Cooperative projects with the local community includes the Gamitana Farm, a comprehensive model farmhouse for self-generating eco-agri business. It also operates Concepcion, a community house restored for volunteers, local and international researchers and a national volunteerand education program.
In April 2007, Inkaterra became Peru’s first carbon-neutral travel organization by integrating renewable energy onsite, and offsetting emissions from all of its accommodation and tour related activities, including fuel use and electricity generation. Inkaterra acknowledges that all travel generates unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions that affect global warming. Inkaterra actively educates their clients and guests to do so as well with the opportunity to of a carbon neutral accommodations in the Andes and the Amazon, which offer a wonderful experience for the conscientious traveler.
Our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. -SSTDI offers Capacity Building and Training programs to public and private stakeholders, host communities and grassroots in sustainable tourism development & stewardship to include Good Governance, Climate Change Mitigation , Disaster Preparedness and Management. Waste to Energy projects are offered to LGUs for their ecological solidwaste management and renewable energy solutions. For more information and assistance, contact us.